Hero flier's medals bought by Portsmouth's National Museum of the Royal Navy

The medals of the most-decorated pilot in the Royal Navy are to be displayed in Portsmouth.

Saturday, 26th November 2016, 8:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 3:40 pm
Military medals belonging to test pilot Eric "Winkle" Brown, which have been bought by the National Museum of the Royal Navy after the intervention of a donor. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The honours and log books of Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown have been sold to the National Museum of the Royal Navy after the intervention of a donor.

Mr Brown, who was born in the Leith area of Edinburgh, was known for flying 487 different types of aircraft, which is currently a world record.

The seven medals and log books purchased include a Distinguished Service Cross and CBE, which were bought by the museum after they failed to sell at auction.

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They were bought by The Fleet Air Arm Museum, the flying arm of the Royal Navy in Yeovilton, Somerset. The medals were recently valued at £165,000.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said the museum was delighted to have secured the historic items after the intervention of “an incredibly generous donor”.

He said: “It is fair to say that Captain Brown was by many measures the Fleet Air Arm’s most significant pilot of the post-war period and we are thrilled and honoured to be able to class this collection as one of our own.

“We can now preserve the record of innovation which is contained within Captain Brown’s log books, which includes previously untapped information, and display them for the world to see.

“The Fleet Air Arm Museum is the spiritual home of the service and a right and fitting home for the medals and logbook to be displayed.”

Captain Brown, who died in February 2016 aged 97, holds the world record for the most aircraft carrier take-offs (2,407) and landings (2,271).

He also became the first-ever pilot to take off and land a jet aircraft, the Sea Vampire, on a carrier on December 3, 1945.

Collections at the Fleet Air Arm Museum include the Vampire Mk1 aircraft in which he completed his jet-powered flight plus goggles and gloves worn during his tests.

In 2015, the pilot unveiled a bronze bust commissioned by the museum which is displayed in its galleries.

The museum worked with him to record the long span of his service to form part of the archive which includes a significant collection of naval pilots’ flying logs.

John Millensted, medal specialist at Bonhams said: “We are delighted that the medals are going to such an appropriate home where visitors will be able to learn about the achievements of this extraordinary man.”